For a society as long lived as Peterborough Operatic and Dramatic Society, resting on laurels of past success and following routes of the popular repertoire of musicals is one option. With ‘The Witches of Eastwick’ last year and ‘The Addams Family’ this year, PODS show every other Am dram musical group in the country how it should be done: select new and challenging material, stretch your cast and audience with difficult scores and lesser known works and in doing so, attract a younger demographic to your membership and your following. Add some inspirational direction, top class performances worthy of a West End stage and a company brimming with confidence and energy… and what have you got? That magic and mysterious spell cast over an auditorium which makes for great theatre as opposed to shows where the apology is intoned as ‘Well they’re only amateurs!’
At no point, in a spellbinding regional premiere of Brickman, Elice and Lippa’s fine adaptation of the cartoon to TVseries to movie did that apology have to be made
From the first moment, we were drawn into the undead world of the Addams clan with atmospheric lighting and a gorgeously effective set of double gates with backcloth. From the first note played by the brilliant band, we knew that we were in the truly capable hands of a great musical director ,Steve Hession, and skilled musicians .This show looked great and sounded great: the costumes and make up are striking, the choreography varied and assured with a terrific dance troupe and not a foot or arm seemingly out of place in the tangos and flamencos and Fosse style routines which abound throughout. Bravo, Rob Bristow and Nikki Marsden, .
This is one review where I could wax lyrical about every principal and every member of the company: Sam Dunn was born to play the role of Gomez: his dexterity and subtlety as an actor centres the whole piece creating poignancy where there could be just superficiality. He moves beautifully and he sings wonderfully as does Heather Knapp as Morticia maintaining sensuality and consistent accent in a role so defined by Angelica Huston’s portrayal. Jessica Dyer as Wednesday reminds us what an exquisitely melodic singer she is while Sam Makepeace Beach in his PODS’ debut turns the thankless part of Lucas into an eye catching and heart rending role.
Youngsters Alfie Russell as Pugsley and Harvey Jones as Grandma are hilarious in their horrific incarnations. Georgia Evans and Tim Ingall as Lucas’ parents prove themselves to be well in command of acting roles with a tremendous range of emotions to be shown and some of the most dissonant and difficult musical lines in the whole show. Mark Harriss as Lurch plays the part straight-faced whilst extracting many laughs from a witty script and a fun filled evening.
Impressed as I was by all the principals, I absolutely loved Alex Broadfield’s Uncle Fester. He showed us what it is to move beyond caricature to the heart of a character and allow the audience to fall in love with you as he loved the moon! The large ensemble were impressive in all their appearances, whether moving in sychronicity or even making trees move around the stage. Their enthusiasm and commitment was palpable.
Rob Bristow has proven himself in a relatively short time to be one of the best directors of musicals that the region has: this is his finest work to date.
The audience was enthusiastic throughout and gave a well-deserved standing ovation. I am sorry that PODS are not returning to the Key for ‘Hairspray’ next year because the Key needs brilliant amateur shows like this to bring audiences back to the centre of Peterborough and create new young audiences.
Review: Sandra Samwell